BWW Reviews: BIG FISH at Broadway Training Center Of Westchester
Big Fish, which had a short run on Broadway at the Neil Theatre from September 5, 2013 to December 29, 2013, had it's Westchester debut - presented by the Broadway Training Center of Westchester (BTC) at the Irvington Town Hall. Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the Columbia Motion Picture written by John August, directed by Tim Burton. Big Fish on stage had a book by John August with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. The show centers on a father/son relationship and their attempts to reconcile truth from fantasy. The big fish tales of the father coupled with his career as a traveling salesman distances him from his son - along with an alleged infidelity. Traveling salesman Edward Bloom conveys his life experiences to his son Will in highly exaggerated tales with giants, mermaids and many other characters that seem hard to believe. However, he tells them with such conviction, that it is hard not to root for him and his struggling relationship with his son and wife.
The unique concept of this particular production is that Broadway Training Center of Westchester partnered with Broadway Motion Design to bring the authentic Broadway projection design to the show. The animations were used to highlight the magical elements in the show and did not disappoint! I attended the performance with my two kids and at three hours long, they never once asked when it was over or fidgeted. That is a true testament to the production values created by artistic directors Jason Brantman and Fiona Santos. They gathered together a highly sophisticated group of young actors - ranging from ages 10-19- and musicians to make for a most magical experience.
Directed and musically directed by Fiona Santos, the staging and ensemble were very tight. One could see the joy and commitment in the performer's faces during the musical numbers. Sarah Hicks choreographed very structured musical numbers including "Be the Hero" and "Red White and True." "How it ends" completely transformed the Irvington Town Hall into a fairytale.
The actors completely embodied their roles. Michael Manzi as Edward Bloom, conveyed his enthusiasm for his stories, yet showed the inner struggle he had with trying to connect with his son Will. Dan Jones as Will had the right approach to his disappointment with his father. The feeling that his dad lives in a fantasy world made for a broken relationship. Both actors have beautiful voices and had wonderful stand out numbers.
Anna Fondiller, as Sandra Bloom, played the long suffering wife with the right blend of regret and genuine love for her husband. Her stand out number "I Don't Need a Roof" was sung with a beautiful soprano technique. It brought the house down. Maya Lopez as Will's wife Josephine Bloom and Maddy Murphy as Edward Bloom's lost love Jenny Hill were very strongly played.
The ensemble and larger than life characters that flowed through the town - including Christian Flynn, as the deep voiced and impressive giant, Karl, blended seamlessly in the story. The orchestra, led by Fiona Santos was tight and sounded full bodied, even though there were only nine members.
All and all, Broadway Training Center of Westchester (BTC) mounted an impressive production. It is too bad they only scheduled for three performances. I really think they could have sold out every added performance. The audience leapt to their feet before the final note - including my kids. This captivation and transformation is what Theatre is all about.